As you transform from life at home to life at university, it’s inevitable you’ll end up making some mistakes. While making mistakes and (hopefully) learning from them is all part of the freshers experience, your life would be a whole lot easier if you are aware of the pitfalls. We’ve dug out all the rookie mistakes we can think of so that you can be prepared...
1. Forgetting the essentials
Packing your whole life into the back of your car to move to university can be a very daunting task. It can be easy to pack all the non-essential stuff that you can buy at university, and it’s very easy to forget all the essentials like your passport and duvet! It might be a good idea to write a uni checklist to make sure you pack everything you need.
2. Snapping pics!
Now, we’re not talking about taking a ridiculous number of selfies (although, we really encourage you to). We’re talking about snapping pics of your accommodation and reporting it to the accommodation team and fill it out on your inventory at the start of the year. If there is chip in your desk or a mark on your wall, make sure you get some photos so that you’re not charged for any damage when the year is over.
3. Throwing away moving boxes
It might sound silly, but keeping the boxes you used to move to university is really a good idea in the long run. There’s no doubt you’ll be living in at least one more house before you leave university, so why not flatten your boxes and keep them under your bed until you need them again. Believe us, in 9 months time, you’ll be glad you kept them!
4. Upsetting your neighbours
In the blurry-haze of student nights out, it can be hard to remember that you actually have neighbours. In this case, it will be fellow students, but it is still important to respect them. Not all freshers will be going out every night of the week, so make sure when you’re getting back home, you consider other people around you. You don’t want to get yourself in trouble with the university on your first week or two but you also don’t want to fall out with the people you live with!
5. Find your future home
Now it might seem like ages away, but after your first year at university you will have to find somewhere else to live. We’re not saying you need to rush into it and have it sorted your second week into university, but keep it in mind throughout the year. Don’t rush into it and plan getting a house with the first person you meet as things will change over the year. You’ll meet new friends and might find that you would prefer to live with them instead. Start thinking about it after your first term, but give yourself time to relax first!
If you hear of older students saying they’ve sorted their accommodation, don’t panic, you should focus on who you want to live with, who is likely to be back after Christmas and make sure you attend the accommodation works shops put on by Student Services. You can then look at properties in the spring term, there is no shortage of properties available in the local area. Importantly do not sign any contracts or pay any deposits until after Christmas once you are sure on the house and the people!
6. Attending every single Welcome Week event
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘go hard or go home’ and as fun as this might sound, getting some sleep every now and then is also fun and good for you! Welcome Week is categorised as one of the most exciting and memorable weeks of your life, so of course you’re going to want to go to every single event. Remember, you need money for the rest of the term as well, so don’t just spend everything you have on that one week and remember that fresher’s flu is real and if you try and overdo it, you will get ill!
Don’t just go to the party events, make sure that you go and visit some of the activities that involve being sober, we promise you’ll make just as many friends at these as well. Which leads us onto our next point...
7. Ignoring the non-alcohol events
The most important part about Welcome Week is socialising and you do not need to have alcohol to have fun, but we would be lying if we said people don’t like a drink or two. Throughout Welcome Week the SU will be putting on a range of event which include alcohol and events that don’t. Make sure you do what is best for you.
8. Joining too many clubs and societies
Walking around and seeing all the amazing clubs and societies at Harper can be overwhelming and getting asked to sign up might make you feel great in the moment, but that feeling will soon wear off. Once Welcome Week is over, you’ll realise that you don’t have as much time as you originally thought to be involved with a number of different clubs and societies. Most of the Harper societies and clubs will have membership fees, so make sure you narrow it down to a club you definitely want to be involved in. Attend some of the free taster sessions before you commit to anything. Not all events/activities cost money, feel free to enjoy these and get involved where you want.
9. Ditching your folks as soon as you leave
We get that university is a new and exciting experience and there will be a strong desire to impress new flat mates and spend all your time with them, but don’t forget who helped you pack your car up.
Whether they’ll admit it or not, your parents will be feeling very emotional (happy and sad) about you finally flying the nest, so be nice to them. You’ll never know when you might need their help and support. Perhaps you could spend some quality time with them at home before you leave or even invite them to come a visit you for the day once you have settled after the first couple of weeks. Don’t forget to keep in touch with them throughout Welcome Week, drop them a text or a call and let them know how you are getting on.
10. Shopping when you’re hungry
It might seem like a logical idea to save shopping until all the cupboards are bare, but shopping on a hungry stomach is THE worst idea! Shopping on an empty stomach will lead to impulse buys, which will lead to overspending. Before you rush over to the shops, make sure you write yourself a list and STICK to it! It’s the only way you’ll be able to help you budget.
Why not try and do some shopping together in your herds, you can put a kitty together to buy some communal items such as washing up liquid or try and do some communal meals, this is a great way to spread the costs out. If you are struggling with money you can always pop along and see Ellen the student advisor for free help and advice.
11. Leaving dishes until they’re mouldy
That’s right, clean your dishes!! No one exactly likes washing up, especially when they’ve been left that long that they have new forms of life growing on them, but it needs to be done. Try and avoid leaving your dishes for too long – the quicker you wash them, the easier they’ll be to wash. The same goes for taking the bins out, don’t leave it until the bins are overflowing and start to smell, take them out as soon as they’re full.
12. Ignoring food-use by dates
Yes, it’s true that use-by dates can be misleading and you’ll often find that some foods will last a few days past their recommended use-by date. But it’s important to know that this doesn’t apply to all foods! If you’re dealing with dairy, meats or fish, then its’s important to chuck it after its use-by date, to avoid getting ill. If you don’t think you’ll use it by this date then you can always put it in the freezer to preserve it.
13. Running out of toilet roll (whilst on the loo)
At harper you do get a supply of toilet roll as part of your accommodation, if you’re not of a budget toilet roll person perhaps bring your own. We also recommend kitchen roll, it is very versatile for kitchen mishaps, split drinks and much more that needs cleaning.
14. Clogging the kitchen sink
We usually love the phrase, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but that does not apply when it comes to your kitchen sink. Do not be tempted to wash down bits of fat and food because you’re too lazy to scrape them into the bin. It might not seem like a problem right away, but it will come back to haunt you at some point later in the year when you discover nothing will go down the sink. If it does get to this stage, we recommend looking into some Mr Muscle.
15. Pretending you’re not homesick
It’s okay to feel homesick throughout your time at university, you shouldn’t feel the need to hide it or be embarrassed by it. At the end of the day it’s a huge step to head off to university, especially when it means moving away from home, so don’t be afraid to open up to others. If you do feel yourself feeling down, try to do something proactive to keep your mind off it. Try hanging out with your mates, or, if you’re not feeling sociable, head to the gym and get some exercise or take a walk around campus.
We also recommend that you talk to your warden or a member of Student Services or the SU team, you can also talk to your course team. The wardens have been in your shoes, they are a student themselves and they have been a first year in the past. They are there to help you.
16. Leaving everything until the night before
Despite what people might tell you, the best time to finish an essay is not 3am the night before it’s due. You need to have a little forward planning in order to get the best possible grades and decrease your stress levels. Unlike what you might’ve been used too at school and college, your lecturers are not going to be checking up on you to make sure you’ve started your essays, so you need some self-discipline to get through it. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to revise, write drafts, and proofread your essays ahead of the deadline date.
17. Leaving it too late to find a job
We find that some of our students living funds do not last the term at university. Getting a part-time job can help to make ends meet each month, it might be a good thing to try and budget before you start, to see if you need a part time job at the start. We’re not saying you need a full-time job that means you don’t have any social life, try and find a job with a few hours a week to help give that extra bit of cash if you need it. There are some jobs available at the university, working for the bar if you want something closer to home.
It is always an option to get a job during the holidays, out of term to earn that extra cash. Ellen is a great help with this.
18. Not backing up your work!
This is one thing you will hear from lecturers, tutors and those unfortunate friends who made the same mistake – REMEMBER TO BACK UP YOUR WORK! It’s sooooo important!
So many students have the same bad habit of leaving things until the last minute, but when your computer crashes it turns a bad situation into a terrible situation. The university isn’t going to give you an extension because you didn’t back your work up, so make sure YOU BACK UP YOUR WORK!
19. Locking yourself out
You should always be carrying your ID card and your key with you everywhere, remember that if you get locked out there is a charge and you need to contact the duty warden phone to arrange for somebody to let you in. Remember to always lock your bedrooms as when the cleaners or estates for example come they will lock your rooms after their visit, and if you do not lock your room you invalidate your insurance policy should anything bad happen.
20. HAVE FUN
The most important one of all is of course to have as much fun as possible! Most of you will only get the chance to be a fresher once, so make the most of it! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, go out and meet new people, attend our events, just relax and let loose!